When I write about being raped I still use the word victim because that's what I was. I was a victim of a sex crime. When I say I was a victim of rape I am repeating a fact not playing the victim card.
The word victim doesn't strip me of my full human dimensions, people try to do that. The first person who did so was my rapist and many others continued where he started. Some of those people have made hostile statements about me which go far beyond anything my boyfriend/rapist said before, during or after he raped me. When they inform me that they are better human beings than my rapist (if I really was raped) they have no credibility.
Others mean well when they tell me I must use the word survivor instead, but there is something paternalistic and dehumanizing in being told to stop making a particular statement of fact.
When certain groups such as native women are victims of sex crimes at higher rates than other groups any victim-related stigma applied to them is a form of victim blaming. For there to be a stigma applied to certain victims those applying the stigma need to believe that these women must be doing something wrong which is causing them to be victims. This practice often turns sex criminals into passive beings rather than viewing sex criminals as humans who made choices to harm others of their own free will.
This overlooks important external factors which help sex criminals decide who to harm such as how rapes are prosecuted on and off native lands and how people view native women's sexual availability and sexual autonomy. The broadest external factor relates to attitudes about girls and women who drink alcohol so that messages directed at girls and women as an effort to help prevent sexual violence actually encourages those willing to commit sexual violence to rape those who have alcohol in their system by making victims the cause of most sex crimes.
These external factors are often ignored when the focus is on avoiding the V-word, but they are critically important if we are serious about preventing sexual violence. People who have the attitude that, "She's just a ...." are the ones denying that certain victims of sex crimes are multifacted human beings.
When people tell those who have been victims of sex crimes to stop being victims, they make victimhood something chosen by the victim.
We don't inform victims of identity theft that they must instead call themselves identity theft survivors. We can integrate the trauma involved with having someone steal a person's identity with being a multifaceted human being. That many people cannot do this when someone was a victim of sexual violence reflects on our troubling attitudes about sex crimes.
If people cannot integrate victim of sex crime with multifaceted human being then that contributes to sexual violence denial which contributes to the continuation of sexual violence. If it is clear someone is a multifaceted human being then by this twisted logic they could not have been a true victim of a sex crime.
We don't need to banish the word victim, we need to banish actions which victimize other people.